Study

Raising water levels to revert arable land to grazing marsh at Berney Marshes RSPB Reserve, Norfolk, England

  • Published source details Lyons G. & Ausden M. (2005) Raising water levels to revert arable land to grazing marsh at Berney Marshes RSPB Reserve, Norfolk, England. Conservation Evidence, 2, 47-49

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Restore or create traditional water meadows

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Raise water level to restore/create freshwater marshes from other land uses

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation

Restore or create traditional water meadows

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Restore or create traditional water meadows

    A study on 84 ha of former arable land adjoining Berney Marshes RSPB Reserve, Norfolk, England (Lyons & Ausden 2005), found that breeding wader numbers increased after the land was restored to grazing marsh: 15-20 pairs of northern lapwing and 5-10 pairs of common redshank were found on the marsh, depending on year. The fields were regularly used for foraging by a large proportion of the estimated 100,000 wintering waterfowl (e.g. Eurasian wigeon Anas penelope) using the reserve. The fields were acquired in 1998, water levels were raised, foot drains were added, and grazing by sheep (and then cattle) was introduced. By 2003, plant communities had shifted towards those characteristic of lowland wet grassland.

     

  2. Raise water level to restore/create freshwater marshes from other land uses

    A study in 1998–2003 aiming to restore a wet meadow on farmland in England, UK (Lyons & Ausden 2005) reported that following rewetting and the introduction of grazing, the site was colonized by vegetation – including wet meadow species. After three years, overall vegetation cover was 71%, including 23% cover of wet meadow plant species (“typical of lowland pasture regularly flooded with fresh water”) and 42% cover of grassland species. The most abundant plant species was rough meadow grass Poa trivialis (37% cover). After five years, overall vegetation cover had increased to 94% and wet meadow plant cover had increased to 65%, whilst grassland plant cover had decreased to 13%. The most abundant plant species was now creeping bent Agrostis stolonifera (29% cover). Methods: In 1998, eighty-four hectares of arable farmland, next to a wetland nature reserve, were rewetted: by damming existing drainage, installing a wind-driven water pump and digging new water-control ditches to bring the water table to the soil surface. Grazing livestock (sheep and cattle) were also introduced. Note that the study evaluates the combined effect of rewetting and grazing. In August 2001 and 2003, plant species and cover were recorded in twenty-eight 1-m2 quadrats.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

  3. Restore or create traditional water meadows

    A study in 84 ha of arable land adjoining Berney Marshes RSPB Reserve, Norfolk, England, describes their restoration to grazing marsh (Lyons & Ausden 2005). The fields were acquired in 1998, water levels were raised, foot drains were added, and grazing by sheep (and then cattle) was introduced. By 2003, plant communities had shifted towards those characteristic of lowland wet grassland. Breeding wading bird numbers increased, with 15-20 pairs of northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus and 5-10 pairs of common redshank Tringa totanus (depending on year). The fields are regularly used for foraging by a large proportion of the estimated 100,000 wintering waterfowl (e.g. Eurasian wigeon Anas penelope) now using the reserve.

     

     

Output references

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